Other highlights from the Consumer Reports National Research Center’s national representative survey include:
• Organic Produce. The majority of consumers think organic produce should not have pesticides (91% of consumers) or antibiotics (86%). The NOSB will vote on ending the exemption for streptomycin on apples and pears, which has been re-listed many times.
• Sunset Process. An overwhelming percentage of consumers (84%) think the use of artificial ingredients in organic products should be discontinued, if not reviewed, after 5 years; few consumers (15%) endorse continued use of the artificial ingredient without review.
In September 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program changed the review process. Under the new policy, an exempt material could be permitted indefinitely unless a two-thirds majority of the NOSB votes to remove an exempted (synthetic) substance from the list. The new policy allows USDA to relist exemptions for synthetic materials without the recommendation of the independent board and outside of public view, which used to be required.
The original authors of the organic law, Senator Patrick Leahy and Representative Peter DeFazio, have urged the USDA to reverse this policy change, saying that it “turns the sunset policy of the Organic Foods Production Act on its head” and is “in conflict with both the letter and the intent of the statute.”
The issue of sunset will be raised as part of the public comment portion of the NOSB meeting.
In other news, Census Bureau issues report on home ownership and rental vacancies. Home ownership is down slightly overall, to just less than 65%.
The European Union’s ban on Indian mangoes and other items continues to draw press notice.
We instinctively knew that hope in immigration reform is fool’s gold, didn’t we? At least seasoned observers of the inability of Congress to push through immigration reform shouldn’t be surprised by the growing frustration with the state of play for legislative action this year. Veteran Washington ag report Chuck Abbott quoted Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on the urgent need for the House to act and also quoted Virginia apple grower Phil Glaize about labor shortages at harvest time during the past three years that have limited his farm’s profitability.